I drove down to Garden Grove on Saturday to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Gem Theatre. Why would anyone drive an hour to see a show? Because my friends are in it and I wanted to support them and I’m classy like that. Also, there are good theatre companies in Orange County and One More Productions is one more of them.
This production of Fiddler is like most things in Orange County. It’s a bit too clean compared to LA’s grittiness and when you look close you see things that are wrong. Nothing big, but stuff that stands out.
The set design was decent, with hanging flats of rooftops surrounding an empty stage. Other flats and set pieces are brought on later to convey the different locations. The style of these was kind of retro, a throwback to fabulous musicals in the 60’s.
The acting, singing and dancing were decent, with some people better than others. It’s that way with all shows. I was pretty fortunate to have a seat in the front row. Some actors projected better than others and I think that if I sat in the last row I wouldn’t have enjoyed the show as much.
I feel that the real linchpin scene in Fiddler is the Fruma-Sarah scene, where we see the ‘ghosts’ invade Tevye’s dream. What you see on stage is indeed what nightmares look like and I’m still trying to figure out how they got Fruma-Sarah to fly. It wasn’t wires, it wasn’t just a rolling cart. There’s something there that I just can’t figure out and that’s a good thing. Theatre should be magical and keep you guessing.
The costumes were decent, but the lack of period shoes and spectacles and obviously fake facial hair really put me out of the experience, but I could see that’s not the case for everyone. They do use college ruled notebook paper in one scene that made me go *facepalm.*
The lights were limited but effective. Not a criticism, just an observation. Lights are expensive and they did a good job with what they had.
The program doesn’t warn you about the fog-machine or strobe lights. I’m pretty photo-sensitive so that would’ve been nice to know.
Ultimately, my final say is that it’s a fun show and that’s the most important thing about it. Theatre needs to be enjoyable and this production is incredibly enjoyable. So, if you live near Garden Grove or really love Fiddler on the Roof, check it out this weekend. You’ll have a fun time.
The Gem Theatre really is a throw back to when theatre was an outing that brought the community together. The lobby is large, the venue beautiful, concession plentiful and they even have a raffle. It’s a wonderful place to spend an evening.
Damien Lorton, Director, Musical Director and Artistic Director for One More Productions, should really teach other theatre companies stewardship. He does a superb job of introducing the audience to the production and making everyone feel welcome. He even got the mayor pro-temp of Garden Grove to attend and introduced donors. good for him.